W.A. MOZART (1756-1791)
Divertimento in D major, K. 136 (1772)

Written in Salzburg in January 1772, Mozart's Divertimenti K. 136-138 were scored for string quartet and research suggests that they were composed in preparation for Mozart's upcoming second journey to Italy. Most likely they were intended to be used as pleasant "filler" numbers for some occasions (a somewhat unsettling thought, but, nevertheless, true - these and other Divertimenti, as well as numerous Serenades and Cassations were written for and performed at garden parties and similar occasions as purely background entertainment - 18th century elevator music, if you will). Researchers have also determined that the title Divertimento in the manuscript is not by Mozart's hand. Today they are some of the most popular works in string orchestra repertoire. Thanks to the familiar "K" numbers which accompany Mozart titles (Kochel, in the second half of the 19th century, made the first systematic catalog of Mozart's works), we are reminded that 135 compositions preceded K. 136, including about a dozen operas and masses and some twenty symphonies. Around the time K. 136-138 were composed, Mozart was turning sixteen.

The Divertimento in D major, K. 136, is a very sunny, carefree composition, and the occasional slip into minor keys does not bring a shadow of drama. "Mozart is never easy" is a cliche of course, but so true nevertheless. To verbalize the challenge of performing it is as much a challenge in itself. In most cases, I schedule this piece at the opening of the concert - as if offering a glass of champagne when guests arrive.